Story 2014-10-14 2TC5 A new approach to assisted biking: the Copenhagen wheel

A new approach to assisted biking: the Copenhagen wheel

by
in hardware on (#2TC5)
story imageInteresting new tech if you're into bikes: the Copenhagen Wheel is a disc-shaped module that can be retrofit onto almost any bike. It's:
... an electric pedal-assist motor fully contained in the oversized red hub of an otherwise normal back bicycle wheel. Inside that red hub is a delicately crammed array of computing equipment, sensors, and a three-phase brushless direct current electric motor that can feel the torque of my pedaling and add appropriately scaled assistance.

Replace the back wheel of any bike with the Copenhagen Wheel and it's instantly an electric bikeā€”one that not only assists the rider but senses the surrounding topography and can even collect and share data about environmental, traffic, and road conditions. First developed in 2009, through a partnership between MIT's Senseable City Lab and the City of Copenhagen, the wheel is now in its first stages of commercial production. By the end of 2014, thousands will be shipped out to fulfill pre-orders around the world.
Sometimes you do still have to pedal though.
Reply 21 comments

So it's a moped (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-14 22:20 (#2TC7)

Great, another moped design so people get even less exercise. It's more elegant to have direct assist in the hub, I'll give them that. I just can't help thinking that for those who don't need the exercise (non-Americans) there are more rugged, cheaper, SAFER, and more efficient motorized bikes.

Could be wrong. :-)

Re: So it's a moped (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-14 22:52 (#2TC9)

Might be more elegant from a visual standpoint, but I believe there are major compromises required in a direct drive motor with suitable torque and rpm for a pedal assist bike? Recently Bosch got into the pedal-assist business and they have (according to a friend that worked with them) really done their engineering homework. Their system uses a smaller, higher rpm motor with reduction gearing.

Re: So it's a moped (Score: 1)

by billshooterofbul@pipedot.org on 2014-10-15 13:15 (#2TCK)

Wow, prices have come down in the last five years since I bought my bike. I would have gone with an electric, if they had been even twice the price. Now they've pretty much reached price equality for the cheaper models. Pedaling is great fun and a good work out, but it would have been nice to have something that could take over on a hot day to prevent needing a shower when I got to work.

Re: So it's a moped (Score: 1)

by reziac@pipedot.org on 2014-10-15 22:19 (#2TD5)

Or that would help me get up the hill or against the wind. Ideally one that would charge when it wasn't assisting, like downhill, flat, or with the wind.

Re: So it's a moped (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-16 23:08 (#2TE7)

So how much extra effort are you willing to put in to charge it on the flats and "with the wind"? How much slower are you willing to go to charge it?

Energy's not free ams you WILL feel it.

Distance is a disincentive (Score: 0)

by hyper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-14 22:21 (#2TC8)

I used to ride my pushbike every day. The extra change of clothes and time eventually led to the pushbike gathering dust. On a completely unrelated topic, this is gross: http://dailyhealthpost.com/the-only-video-that-coca-cola-never-wants-you-to-see/?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral

Re: Distance is a disincentive (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-15 04:11 (#2TCB)

On a completely unrelated topic, this is gross: http://dailyhealthpost.com/the-only-video-that-coca-cola-never-wants-you-to-see/
As a kid I used-to drink coke mixed with milk plenty of times. Tastes just fine, though unlike anything else. Theirs only turned into a mess after 6 hours of sitting around (I wouldn't let a cup of milk sit on the counter for 6 hours, to begin with), and then it merely looks like the heavier fluid separated from the lighter, and stirring it up might still fix it.

All the health information they include was pulled from someone's backside, with no basis in reality. You really should listen to the FDA rather than tin-foil hatters.

Is This Necessary? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-14 23:13 (#2TCA)

You're going to be outside, without any benefits of HVAC (heating or cooling), so you're at the mercy of the weather. If it's hot out, I don't care how little you have to pedal, you're still going to sweat.

From the other side, I dislike when people put motorized vehicles in the bicycle lane. This might be on the edge, it's probably not moving much faster than your average cyclists, which makes it dangerous to put in the bicycle lane, yet slower than your average motorist, which makes it dangerous to put in the car lane.

I fully admit to a complete bias, as I'm a year round cyclist who uses good old fashioned pedal power to get around.

Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-15 04:20 (#2TCC)

Strikes me as a bit overpriced when an all-electric "bike" that you never need to pedal can be had for under $250. They work great for moving around all day long, such as huge warehouses, apartment complexes, campuses, or other sprawling job sites. Replacement batteries (every year) run as little as $30 on amazon.

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-15 12:15 (#2TCJ)

Holy crap, $800?? For the wheel? Before you add in a $300-$10,000 bike to go with it?

They're kidding I hope. I need a new road bike and my budget is $600 tops. Probably go online (rhymes with schmikesdirect).

And the range is a measley 30 miles, maybe? This is just dumb. (At 20 mph it's barely an hour of cycling!) No indication how long it takes to charge either. Maybe if it came with a fat rack or bottle mount battery pack for extended range.

And again, the safety of someone riding a thin conventional road or MTB with power assist when they're not capable of or used to that speed, it sounds like disaster. But I guess the sensors appeal to new age would-be geek hipsters...

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-15 15:43 (#2TCQ)

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-15 16:33 (#2TCR)

Huh, I'm surprised Razor couldn't make a better looking scooter. But it seems that its range is only 10 miles, max 15 mph.

Anyhow, as I said I'm looking for a bicycle, and have no need for boosting at present. :)

Huh, a used Segway is still $3K-$6K. Crazy.

Meanwhile, something like a "Honda Metropolitan" gas scooter looks better, carries more, MSRPs at $1,999, and has a range of about 140 miles at 117 mpg.

And is maybe slightly less dorky than all these electric jalopies. Maybe.

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-10-16 09:06 (#2TDJ)

Different usage scenarios. The Razor scooter fits next to you on the train/subway and gets you the 10 blocks from the train station to your office without getting your suit/tie all sweaty. You're not supposed to be taking your razor scooter down the highway (and you'd like like a mad fool if you did).

The Honda Metro doesn't go on the train. You take it all the way across town in traffic, at speeds approaching car speeds.

They're not meant to be compared; they are for two totally different things.

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-16 20:59 (#2TE3)

Okay, I hear you, that distinction certainly makes sense. But I'm sorry, I'm over 15 years old and that Razor is too dorky even for me. An adult in business attire (or any attire really) would look absolutely ridiculous sitting on that thing. Even a "Rascal" is better.
At least those motorized skateboards are kind of cool.

But different strokes for different dorks I guess. :)

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-10-16 23:44 (#2TE8)

I agree with you actually - the Razor might be convenient in some circumstances, but if you ride one you're going to get an ass-kicking reminiscent of the 4th grade, and for the same reason. Ya look like a dork!

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-17 04:13 (#2TEB)

At least this model looks more like a bicycle and not a scooter with a stick up your butt.

http://www.razor.com/products/electric-scooters/ecosmart-metro/

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 09:22 (#2TEC)

I'd go for the E300S, and just detach the seat immediately. Much smoother ride that way (standing), safer, easier to stow, etc. That "ecosmart" would have bars sticking up in your way to trip you even after removing the seat.

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-17 14:28 (#2TEM)

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 15:24 (#2TEQ)

Gas? Seriously? Sure to be noisy as hell and draw all kinds of attention you don't want, emit gas fumes wherever you store it, and not be allowed on trains/buses as a result.

Re: Electric bikes? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-27 22:35 (#2TR3)

Wowohwowohwow want need must have rowr!